I’m back from a great weekend in Busan.
I was disappointed that we didn’t have waves on Saturday but the event as a whole was pretty fun! It’s worth bearing in mind that the surf comp and indeed the sport itself is still relatively new in Korea so there’s lots of room for improvement.
When the judges saw that the day was getting on and conditions were not going to improve before the beach closes at 6PM, they decided to have board paddle races to select the winners instead. Before the event started, all the surfers formed a big circle in the water to pay respect to the victims of the Sewol Ferry Tragedy.
I met Brett Burcher, who won the 2009 Red Bull Juniors in Cronulla, Australia. He’s studying to become a teacher and is extremely down to earth. I think that if he could combine surfing and teaching like Skateistan has done with education/ skateboards he could really be a force for good! Check out Toby Cregan’s surf short, Carpark Stories , featuring Brett riding some shweet waves.
The youngest surfer at the competition was Kai Kim, who, at the age of 2, has more sponsors than she can shake a stick at: Spider surfboards (from Durban, South Africa), Ocean and Earth, Carver Skateboards and Gwangali Surf School. What she lacks in height she makes up for in cuteness! All her sponsors products are available in Korea here.
5 reasons to enter next year’s competition
1. Swag: You get a cool goody bag. This year’s swag included a Billabong cap, surf wax and event t-shirt (and the comp rule book).
2. More swag: There are lots of spot give-aways during the day that you don’t find in every day Korea: trendy sunglasses, big towels, surfwear etc.
3. Free Red Bull!
4. Prizes: If there are waves, you could win a prize. Prizes range from goody bags to 1.5 million won for guys and 1 million won for girls. If there are no waves, you can paddle and still win a prize. Or not, like me… I came 4th out of 4. Sad face.
5. The afterparty. The best fucking party I’ve been to in Korea. The music, the vibe, the all you can drink for 10,000 won… Is there anything hotter than a party with sexy, sweaty surfer boys and girls?!
6. Bonus reason: Mel Vin gave anyone who was interested a SUP intro lesson . I really enjoyed it – great for developing your balance.
5 reasons not to bother:
1. There may not be waves so if you’re a purist this might annoy you. Your back up plan should involve improving your paddling and wrestling skills.
2. You feel pretty clueless as a foreigner as there is hardly any English support.
3. The Korean competition has many divisions: junior, longboard, beginner and open. As a foreigner you can ONLY compete in the International Open. This means that whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, you will be competing against surfers from Japan and Korea who are experienced and who regularly compete on an amateur level. You could still beat them in a paddling match, if you run into the water for as far as you can instead of paddling straight away!
4. If you live in Korea you know that the plan can change at a moment’s notice. The surf comp was no different. My event was supposed to be at the end of the day but they suddenly gave us 5 minutes to get ready. In fact, 2 girls missed out on competing because no one called them to let them know about the schedule change… That’s a bit crap since we’d been on the beach from 8AM that morning.
5. You’ll need a Korean friend to help you enter since the KSA website is only in Korean but that’s a lame excuse not to go!
I’m definitely entering next year’s competition and it would be great if we had more foreigners. I know that loads of Saffas, Aussies, Kiwis, Brits and Yanks surf back home so the level of competition could be so much higher if everyone gets involved! I really think sport has been my favourite way of bonding with Koreans.
GET ON IT!